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SE on Tour: Frozen Free Kicks

In an unorthodox substitution, Honduras goalkeeper, Buba Lopez, was taken off after only 45 minutes. The cause? Hypothermia (yes, that is true).

I’m not sure if that is the exact type of home field advantage that Berhalter and the USSF were looking for; but three points are three points am I right?!

I think we can all agree that the conditions in tonight’s game were insane – with temperatures at 0 (zero) degrees Fahrenheit by the final whistle. On the U.S. side, the temperature didn’t seem to affect the players TOO much; although the sweat from Kellyn Acosta’s beard did literally freeze on his face.

What did Honduras think of the weather?

“It’s not normal, it’s inconceivable that a power…would bring you here to play a game and get a result. The game hasn’t started, but I can’t wait for it to end. Because it’s not for enjoying, it’s for suffering.” – Honduras Manager, Hernan Gomez (pre match). What an all-time great quote.

This game will be remembered as being the coldest game in USMNT history. While valid and fair, the USMNT did play some nice soccer. How much of that was dictated by the weather, or by Honduras being in poor form, we may never know. But regardless, there are some serious positives to take from this match.

Nearly all of the problems the USMNT had against Canada were remedied. In my post-Canada blog, I opined how the U.S. lacked that controlling and aggressive presence in the midfield. In steps Kellyn Acosta and Luca De la Torre.

For me, Acosta was the man of the match with De la Torre as an honorable mention. Their addition changed the dynamic of the U.S. attack. Instead of methodical and side to side, we were decisive and direct – always dictating time and space. It seemed as though all of our passes were played with real intent. De la Torre’s ability to drive at the defense opened space for McKennie, and worked well with the cutting runs from Pepi and Weah, ultimately creating our opportunities from set pieces.

And once we got our set pieces… not much needs to be said. Acosta’s delivery was superb. Say what you want about Honduras’ defending, but three dangerous deliveries, three fantastic finishes. Set pieces and USA soccer – a tale as old as time.

Tonight we saw the spirit and the fire of this team. We saw the American way of soccer. Athleticism, technical ability, physical toughness, mental toughness… it was all there. But most importantly, the PASSION was there. The pure unfiltered passion on Walker Zimmerman’s face after scoring to make it 2-0 made me proud to support this team. That show of emotion was exactly how many USMNT fans were feeling coming into tonight, and that’s what we all want to see. This entire window, Zimmerman has been our best defender – and as tonight showed with his selection as Captain, he may be our best leader.

Elsewhere, Mexico may have potentially saved their Head Coaches job with a home win against Panama. This puts the USMNT 4 points clear and firmly into that second automatic qualifying spot.

In any scenario, the USMNT will qualify for the World Cup with a win against Panama on March 27th in Orlando. Let’s go!


The Nest Liner

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